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Do you find it hard to focus? Do you feel you have too much to do and not enough time to do it all in? A new book is full of advice on how you can weed out the stuff that matters from what doesn’t and free yourself up some time. Real Focus, one of the Psychologies magazine series, is based on interviews with a series of experts. It talks, for instance, about the dangers of ‘multitasking’ and says frequent multi-taskers tend to have more trouble focusing and switching from one task to another than their colleagues.
It starts by asking readers to work out what the main symptoms of their lack of focus are and how they feel about tackling them. After that come chapters on everything from why you lack focus to how you can reclaim your time. The following are a selection of some of the tips contained in the book:
1. Set aside time at the start and end of the day to read and reply to emails. Most are not urgent. Explain to colleagues that you only check emails at certain times of day and if anything is urgent they can ring you.
2. Ask yourself what is stopping you from being less busy, what would you prioritise and whether all your busyness is productive? Be aware of how often you check social media on your laptop or phone to see if you could reduce it.
3. Switch between high attention tasks which require more concentration to low attention ones, such as filing, to give your brain a break.
4. At home, talk to your partner, if you have one, about the gender balance in your household. Discuss what you both like to do and whether it’s working. It can be more efficient to play to individuals’ strengths so decide who does which tasks best.
5. Could you lower your expectations of yourself or your standards in some areas? One expert, entrepreneur Shaa Wasmund talks about the importance of constantly “pruning” your life.
6. Do what matters and what you enjoy most rather than jamming your diary with stuff you don’t really like doing [unless you absolutely have to].
7. Set aside chunks of time for specific tasks and stick to doing those tasks. If it helps, set a timer.
8. Forward plan to give yourself more time to prepare so you are not doing everything in a rush at the last minute.
9. Group similar tasks in batches so you do them all in one go and don’t have to switch focus.
10. Log how you use your time and see where you can make changes.
11. Work in short bursts so when you do work you concentrate hard. People tend to be most focused towards the end of a task so the theory is that if you have more ends, according to Mark Forster, author of Secrets of Productive People, you will be more productive.
12. When you feel overwhelmed, change your environment, list what you have to do and tackle it one thing at a time.
*Real Focus: take control and start living the life you want is published by Capstone, price £9.99.